Onset of Withdrawal & Treatment Options

Onset of Withdrawal

Benzodiazepines are not intended to be taken long-term, as prolonged use or abuse can cause the brain to become both physically and psychologically dependent on them. Withdrawal symptoms, ranging from a return of uncomfortable psychological symptoms to physical manifestations such as nausea, diarrhoea, insomnia, slurred speech and memory lost may occur when the drugs are removed from the bloodstream. Family history of drug dependency or previous issues with substance abuse and/or dependency may increase the likelihood of developing a dependency on a benzodiazepine and may potentially add to the withdrawal timeline duration as well.

Individuals taking benzos for several months or more and in high doses are likely to experience more withdrawal symptoms that last longer than those taking smaller doses for a shorter length of time.

Some short-acting benzodiazepines, like alprazolam also known as Xanax, are thought to be more potent than some of the longer-acting ones, such as Valium, as well. While withdrawal will be similar for both, users of short-acting benzos may experience withdrawal symptoms sooner and with more intensity, as benzos with longer half-lives will stay in the body longer, therefore slowing the onset of withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are all designed as central nervous system depressants; however, they each may work slightly differently at targeting certain symptoms.

For example, flurazepam and triazolam are considered primarily hypnotic benzodiazepines prescribed for insomnia, while alprazolam, lorazepam, Librium (chlordiazepoxide), and Valium are classified as anxiolytics used to treat anxiety symptoms. Klonopin is considered primarily an anticonvulsant. Different metabolites of these medications make them slightly different, which may also affect how quickly they leave the bloodstream. Withdrawal from different benzodiazepines is generally thought to bring the same general symptoms; however, it is possible that an individual withdrawing from a hypnotic may have more disrupted sleep patterns while withdrawal from an anxiolytic may include higher levels of anxiety.

Treatment Options

People with a long-term dependence on benzodiazepines may find it difficult to stop taking benzodiazepines. Attempts to discontinue use of these drugs often result in withdrawal symptoms and fast relapse. Therefore, a gradual reduction of usage is recommended over an abrupt stop.

If you or someone you loved one is finding it hard to successfully taper off benzodiazepines, please know that help is available. Contact us, our specialist practitioner can help you overcome an addiction to benzodiazepines and concerns.

We offer two types of therapy services, the first is Therapy 300 that is a face to face service, you will receive a tailored assessment and recovery support plan, ongoing support from a specialist practitioners, counselling and group therapy. We also offer advocacy service, liaising on your behalf with your GP and health services. This service is available for people who can attend Gloucester House at Southmead Hospital.

Our second service is a Telephone Support Service which is talking therapy, you will receive a tailored assessment and recovery support plan, weekly counselling for 20- 30 minutes, and a listening support service.